First Year Anniversary

First Year Anniversary

 

May 10th of last year, Mother’s day I was baptized.  Being baptized to me was just like getting married.  I felt the commitment, the love, the passion, but how would my life, my relationship with Jesus Christ will change?

As I got up May 10th 2009 partially to my alarm and partially to my fear of being discovered, I felt an excitement, a peace, a relationship I thought I would never have.

I knew I had to be up and out of my storage shed, where I had been staying for the last couple of months before people started entering and the manager showed up.

Like most mornings while sleeping in this shed, which I had made into a makeshift apartment, I went over to my bucket of water I renewed last night and take a relatively fresh towel and douse it and then proceed to ‘sponge bath’ myself.   I do not know why, but the face is the most important part, if my face feels clean, the rest of me feel even that much cleaner.

The choice of clothes narrowed since doing laundry is not a luxury; my last batch was hand washed in my bucket using leftover shampoo I happened to have.  From time to time, I did receive some money, either a loan from my friend or because I sold some of my belongings.  With some money I had, I bought a spray that contained bleach.  This spray, as with bleach changed the color of the clothes, thus I only used it on the inside of the clothes.  This spray was a great saver, it killed of course germs, like under the arm type stuff but also made the clothes smell fresh out of the laundry, and at least I thought and hoped.

I dressed in my best jeans, cleanest T-shirt and today even shouldered a button down shirt, for I was going to be baptized.  I Finish up by wetting my hair and brushing it straight back. Found the shoestring I extracted from my tennis shoe the night before and tied it around my right angle, over the pants so my jeans would not get caught in the spokes of my bicycle.

I also had to pack my bag carefully and make sure I did not miss anything. Returning to the storage shed during the day was not a smart maneuver.  It exposed how the storage shed was set up and indicated it has more than just objects in it.  I had to make sure I carried even a change of clothes in my bag, computer, books, power cords, food, or anything else I might need for the next 18 hours.

I looped the shoulder bag over around my back so it sat just about the middle, I mounted my faithful Mountain Bike and glided over the push password box and entered my code.  Slowly the gate would slide open and I would peddle my bike through and then make a sharp right to get to my first destination, Starbucks, without much notice.

To get out with as little notice as possible, I was usually heading to Starbucks around 6:30 AM and today, my baptism does not start until 9:00 AM, so I have a little time to myself.  Today, as most days, I start by reading the Bible, writing in my journal and responding to potential job offers.

Around 8:30 AM, I mount my bike again, which I hid around the corner by the trash bin at Starbucks, and throw my bag over my shoulder, but this time it does not sit right on my back, it hits the bike seat and causes it so swing right or left when I stand to mount the seat.  This causes two challenges; firstly, I am off balance and two it gets in the way of riding.  With effort, I try to swing it back to where it should be without causing me to swerve into something stationary or cause the swaying of the bag to throw my balance off enough to where I have to start over getting going again.

The ride to the church is uneventful.  As usual, I am the only bike on the road, an odd feeling in a town with sidewalks; young people and great weather one might think they would be filled with them.  I have my routine down.  I cross the street back towards Starbucks then ride behind the RaceTrac gas station, then dart back across the street in a free break in traffic and charge up the sidewalk.

Down to the Town Square, where the multitude of shops, restaurants and the movie theater are, then back across the street.  I will stay on this side of the street for the remaining part of the ride.  The sidewalks are partial here; I know I have to cross four thresholds of grass before I will arrive at the church driveway.

Some mornings everything goes very well across these tracks, but it depends on the path, speed and how much they water the night before to whether it is a clean crossing.  Today, even though my day to be baptized, one patch of grass has been watered and a bit sloppy lake like, so I get a spraying of water and mud all over me, but it’s not to think and appears to have the ability to dry without a mark.

The parking lot of the church is full, there are five services available, thus the parking lot is continually full until after the last service and people are always around.  I am somewhat self-conscious riding my bike to church, thus come to the exit and enter from the sidecars do not usually drive through.

I found a great spot for my bike, to hide it from being noticed, thus limited embarrassment and for protection from being possibly stolen.  In front of the church, there is about a 5′ white brick wall, it hides the AC units for this section of the church.  There is enough room between the wall and the A/C units to put my bike, so I gently slide it between the two.  I grab my bible from one of the compartments of my bag and place it gently next to the front wheel of my bike.

I head over to the sanctuary I am to be baptized.  In my pass over, I stop in the main lobby and grab a donut and a quick cup of coffee and then I run into Ed.  Ed is a member of the church, is part of a group called “Stephen’s Ministry”, and he has been there to counsel and listen to me and to help guide me for the last several months.  As I shake hands with him and embrace in a hug, he asks me, “Did you ride your bike?”   I smiled and said of course!

That was about a year ago.   Today, I went to church.  I work up to the same alarm I did a year ago, but I did not have to get up and leave because of the lurking possibility of being discovered, in fact, I ignored the alarm and continued to sleep a bit longer.  My bed is soft and my blanket and comforter soft and clean.  I have a selection of clean clothes to choose from, but wonderfully more is I get up and get into a warm shower and shave with ease.

I walk down the few stairs from my loft of a bedroom; admire the artwork of my younger children abound on the walls and the floor.  I open my front door of my warm, carpeted apartment and get into my 1995 excellent running and reasonably kept Lincoln Continental and drove to Church.

Today I still wonder how my life has been changed by my renewed relationship with Christ.  Even though a tremendous amount has changed, I still this question, I ask this question because I do not feel as though I can have a close enough relationship with Jesus Christ and never feel like I want to be content with the relationship I have.  Each day, I want to try harder to server Jesus Christ even more.

Even though, with all my honesty I could tell you I feel as close to Jesus Christ today as I did last year the day I was baptized, my life, my outlook, my faith, and love have all changed for the better.  Is my life easier, no, it has not if anything it has gotten harder? Harder because I have greater wisdom, faith, and love, I did not have before.  So why is my life harder, it is because I struggle with my own vision of my limitations and the ones God has for me.  And constantly, when I feel I am out of capacity, I continue to have more.  In addition, having more love, faith, forgiveness, argues against my personal self-logic of why I should extend myself anymore.  However, I realize, I am not extending anything, it has is God’s will and if God can do it and ask me to do it, then I can do it, but it does not always make it easy.

I guess it’s no different than a coach believing the student can do more than the student believes themselves they can do as well as the teacher knowing the why the student needs to learn the lesson.

I look forward to my next year.  I know I still have so many obstacles to overcome, I know I will feel like I did this last year, that I was making no progress, my relationship with God and Jesus Christ needs even more work, but in the end I can say I learned even more lessons and been able to extend my love, grace, faith, and forgiveness even more.

With All My Prayers and Blessings,

 

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Ego = Potato Chips

Posted Originally May 20th, 2009 The Ego is Like a Bag of Potato Chips

When I was home, growing up, I was always hungry. Every once in a while, we would have a bag of potato chips sitting around. I would dive into them and continue eating them by the handful, my mom would notice the intensity I was eating them and would say “Leland, you can’t fill up on potato chips, eat something of substance.” I did not understand, I was hungry and I liked potato chips and they were right in front of me, more importantly, eating them was easier and tastier than fixing something “nutritious”

I attribute our ego similar to the bag of potato chips, it seems endless in what our ego can consume. And it is easier to satisfy the ego, then feed the soul. But, If only we would prepare or look for something which would satisfy the thirst for fulfillment in our soul, our need for the ego might lessen.

As we should fill our stomachs with good food, food which sustains us for the long term, we should also fill our souls with good food which sustains us for the long term.

In my observations, it seems as man pulls away from God, we try and fill the gap with the ego, a self-centered perspective.

Challenge yourself to move closer to God, to have a better relationship with Jesus Christ and see if those necessities derived of the ego, diminish.

Prayers – all kinds . . .

One of the first prayers in the Bible is from the servant of Abraham, he prays that he will find a good wife for Abraham.  I am surprised by how detailed he is about the request, down to where and what she will say.

Genesis 24:12–14 (ESV)

12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

I love Jacob’s prayer here.  He is returning to his homeland and must face Esau for the first time after taking his birthright and prayer from him.

Genesis 32:9–12 (ESV)

And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”

The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21:9–21 (ESV)

The New Jerusalem

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Verses 9–21
God has various employments for his holy angels. Sometimes they sound the trumpet of Divine Providence, and warn a careless world; sometimes they discover things of a heavenly nature of the heirs of salvation. Those who would have clear views of heaven, must get as near to heaven as they can, on the mount of meditation and faith. The subject of the vision is the church of God in a perfect, triumphant state, shining in its lustre; glorious in relation to Christ; which shows that the happiness of heaven consists in intercourse with God, and in conformity to him. The change of emblems from a bride to a city, shows that we are only to take general ideas from this description. The wall is for security. Heaven is a safe state; those who are there, are separated and secured from all evils and enemies. This city is vast; here is room for all the people of God. The foundation of the wall; the promise and power of God, and the purchase of Christ, are the strong foundations of the safety and happiness of the church. These foundations are set forth by twelve sorts of precious stones, denoting the variety and excellence of the doctrines of the gospel, or of the graces of the Holy Spirit, or the personal excellences of the Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven has gates; there is a free admission to all that are sanctified; they shall not find themselves shut out. These gates were all of pearls. Christ is the Pearl of great price, and he is our Way to God. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. The saints in heaven tread gold under foot. The saints are there at rest, yet it is not a state of sleep and idleness; they have communion, not only with God, but with one another. All these glories but faintly represent heaven.  Henry, M. & Scott, T., 1997. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

A Reminder . . .

James 4:11–12 (ESV)

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Colossians 3:14 NASB Beyond all these things put on love . . .

Colossians 3:12-14 NASB

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; [13] bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. [14] Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.